knowledge of the physical, social, and psychological changes of aging;
knowledge of the diversity of attitudes about aging;
use of case management skills to get access to needed resources;
collaboration with other health professionals;
identification of one’s own biases toward aging; and
respect of diverse cultural and ethnic needs.
Several initiatives aim to promote education and training in geriatric social work:
The Social Work Leadership Institute at the New York Academy of Medicine, funded by the Atlantic Philanthropies and the John A. Hartford Foundation, coordinates the Practicum Partnership Program, an innovative educational model to train masters level social workers in their field work (Box 4-2).
The Atlantic Philanthropies established the Institute for Geriatric Social Work, which, in partnership with the American Society on Aging and other groups, promotes the training of practicing social workers in issues related to the elderly population (IGSW, 2007).
In 2000-2004 the John A. Hartford Foundation supported the Geriatric Enrichment Program (GeroRich) to increase geriatric content in basic social work courses at both the BSW and MSW levels (Hash et al., 2007).
The John A. Hartford Foundation also supports the Council on Social Work Education Gero-Ed Center, which serves as a resource for both faculty and students to become competent in geriatric issues.
Very few social-work trainees do advanced training or field work in aging, and of those who do, most are students in MSW programs. This lack of training is primarily due to a lack of funding for program support or stipends (ASPE, 2006; Scharlach et al., 2000). In partnership with the Social Work Leadership Institute, the John A. Hartford Foundation supports 60 MSW programs in an effort to increase the quality and content of field experiences in aging. The effort aims to increase the numbers of MSW students who go on to specialize in geriatrics.
In 1998 the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), the voluntary professional organization of social workers, created a new specialty section on aging. Recently the NASW has developed three specialty certifications in gerontology available to its members (NASW, 2007).